Welcome to the postseason in college lacrosse. Well, just for the ACC. Every other conference has one more week of regular season play before their conference tournaments next weekend.
Nevertheless, the Syracuse Orange kickstart conference tournaments with the ACC Championship as the No. 4 seed in the tournament as they take on the North Carolina Tar Heels for the second time in two weeks. Despite being the No. 5 seed and technically the away team, UNC is hosting the event this year. So it doesn’t matter. Opening faceoff is set for Thursday night at 6 PM on ACC Network Extra. The winner takes on the No. 1 seed Virginia Cavaliers Saturday afternoon.
Syracuse leads the all-time series 18-8 and have won six of the last seven matchups against the Tar Heels.
The Last Game
The Orange wrapped up the regular season with an 18-9 win over Navy. Everyone did their job. The starting attack of Stephen Rehfuss, Bradley Voigt, and Nate Solomon combined for 17 points. That’s good. The defense was solid. That’s also good. They won. That’s everything you need to know.
Last Time They Met
The two teams met a week and a half ago, and the Orange had another solid defensive outing. Despite giving up a 6-0 run in the first half, Syracuse would give up only one goal in a 35:53 span while they scored 10 en route to a 12-9 final that was not as close as the box score would appear.
While playing against younger brother Nicky Solomon, Nate led the way on offense with a hat-trick and an assist, while Rehfuss and Voigt each recorded three points. FOGO Danny Varello took the bulk of the draws and went 13-of-18 on the afternoon with seven ground balls. Goalie Drake Porter made 12 stops in the win.
KNOW YOUR ENEMY (AGAIN): NORTH CAROLINA
So this is the second time in three weeks the teams are playing. This has happened for the fourth time in the last five seasons with the only exception happening last season with the Orange playing Virginia. It’s a young UNC team, especially at attack.
The starting attack has been together for all but one game. With senior Andy Matthews, a feeder first with a team-high 18 assists, freshmen Jacob Kelly and Nicky Solomon are the starting trio. Solomon has 19 goals while Kelly has 10. Freshman Brian Cameron also gets time at attack and was the starter in place of Matthews when he couldn’t start against Duke.
The midfield has some more experience with senior Timmy Kelly, the UNC leader in points with 34, and junior Justin Anderson, a shooter first. In recent games, sophomore Alex Trippi has become the third starter with 12 goals on the year. Junior William Perry leads the team with 22 goals and is the key reserve offensive midfielder. Others include Tanner Cook, who John Desko highlighted in his weekly press conference below, Ara Atayan, Matt Gavin, and Henry and Harrison Schertzinger.
The most experience comes at close defense with three seniors. Jack Rowlett has a team-high 22 caused turnovers and was just selected in the Premier Lacrosse League College Draft by the Chaos Lacrosse Club. He can also line up on one of the faceoff wings, which he did last weekend when UNC decided to double-pole. Rowlett is joined by Jake Peden and Michael Nathan who each have 10 caused turnovers and 17 ground balls. Jack Halpert is the primary LSM with Cam Macri and Kevin Walker getting some reps. Freshman Connor Maher and sophomore Parker Alexander are the top two SSDMs, with Cole Haverty and Harrison Schertzinger also getting runs.
Zac Tucci is UNC’s top FOGO going 50.2% on draws. Don’t be surprised if the Tar Heels go with Ryan O’Connell as well, who fared better against Jake Phaup and Danny Varello in his short time taking faceoffs in the first meeting. In goal is Caton Johnson, who has done a great job keeping UNC in games, but hasn’t helped the Tar Heels get wins other than the upset of Duke.
Things To Know
As I previously mentioned, here’s John Desko’s weekly press conference.
Enjoy the start of postseason college lacrosse! There’s a few other regular season games this weekend (including Ohio State-Michigan on Friday), so make sure you enjoy what the sport has to offer! And if you want to chat during the game, this will be the place to do it!